Skip to main content

Suspended, Par-Tapi-Narmada River Link Project should be fully withdrawn


By Bharat Dogra
There has been a great surge of united actions by tribal communities against the Par-Tapi-Narmada River Link Project following which the central government and the Gujarat state government have suspended the project for the time-being. Apart from protests by tribal communities, the fact that the Congress party has extended its support to the opposition of this river-link project and that assembly elections are due in the near future must have also weighed with the governments while suspending work on this project.
Under this project three rivers are to be linked—the Par, the Tapi and the Narmada, using 7 dams, three diversion weirs, two tunnels and a 395 km. long canal. Six dams are to be constructed in Gujarat and one in Maharashtra.
However the most reported aspect of this project recently has been the the big and united opposition by tribal communities who have formed struggle committees for various dams and regions. They have asserted that they want a more real commitment from the union and the state government ( Gujarat) that the project will not be taken up in future at all. The Congress party has taken a similar stand.
Behind this demand of the tribal communities of Gujarat is a history of much suffering caused by displacement and other problems, loss of home, forests and farmland, related to several projects in the past. Apart from displacement, there is the longer-term contentious issue of what changes river-links will bring. There is a tendency on the part of the authorities to rush ahead without going deeper into the almost irreversible problems they may be unleashing. In this context the entire thinking about the entire river-link project is deeply problematic. The Tapi-Par-Narmada or the Ken-Betwa link projects are after all only sub-projects of the giant national river-links project which is going ahead with redrawing the river geography of India without giving much thought at all to a comprehensive understanding of how harmful in almost irreversible ways this may be to ecology, people, biodiversity and various habitats. The reasons why such projects are being rushed also need to be discussed.
In the present context of Par-Tapi-Narmada link again the transfer of water to water deficit areas of Saurashtra and Kutch is being discussed. But did we not hear this at the time of the Sardar Sarovar project also, which involved such huge submergence, displacement as well as other ecological and social costs. Surely the transfer of water achieved by this gigantic water project should have been adequate, but no, there is this other project too within a short period. So someone should explain very clearly what are the overall water needs of this deficit area, what was provided by Sardar Sarovar and what is sought from the new project. Very inconvenient questions are likely to be raised in the process of seeking an honest answer to this question. Secondly, what about the surplus water region from where the water is to be transferred? Are the people here satisfied that they have surplus water to transfer?
In the first river-link project known as the Ken-Betwa project these questions have been discussed and debated over a longer time-span and some very inconvenient truths about the total confusion in official thinking regarding what is surplus and deficit have been revealed. A river (Ken) which has been much harmed by sand mining and other factors over the recent years and which is badly depleted during the lean season to a considerable extent is being identified in this project as the surplus river from whom water is sought to be transferred. In fact the entire question is also related not just to water flows per se but also to the extent of the exploitation of water resources. An area which has gone in a big way for industry and commercial water-intensive farming can be shown to be deficit or needing more water, while an area which has been cautious about not overexploiting its water resources can be shown to be more abundant in terms of water resources. So with huge water transfer and river link schemes are we set on rewarding over-exploiters at the expense of cautious users. Then there is the question of who will suffer from all the adverse impacts of dams, not just displacement. Are the impacts on fish and other life-forms in rivers and river-bank areas even being considered? A project like Sardar Sarovar was constructed in the name of augmenting water supply, but in coastal areas it can lead to push-in or ingress of salinity, in turn reducing water for drinking and other essential needs. The Ken-Betwa link is being pushed in the name of removing water scarcity, but it will start with axing more than 2.3 million trees, and each tree as we all know is a valuable conserver of water.
The more money we waste on these dubious, highly questionable but very costly water projects such as the river link sub-projects, the less resources we have for smaller scale, low-costs genuine water conservation work taken up with close involvement of people which does not have any adverse impacts but makes highly cost-effective, employment generating, livelihood protecting contribution to protecting and enhancing water resources. So clearly there is a need to question the way the authorities are going ahead in water projects and the tribal communities of Gujarat have done well to bring a highly questionable project to a halt.

The writer is Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include "Man over Machine" and "India’s Quest for Sustainable Farming and Healthy Food"

Comments

TRENDING

Only 15% businesses provide employees real-time sustainability dashboards: Study

Kyndryl in collaboration with Microsoft has released the findings of The Global Sustainability Barometer study. The study, conducted by Ecosystm, finds that while 85% of organizations place a high strategic level of importance on achieving their sustainability goals, only 16% have integrated sustainability into their strategies and data. A Kyndryl note: *** Kyndryl (NYSE: KD), the world’s largest IT infrastructure services provider, in collaboration with Microsoft , today released the findings of The Global Sustainability Barometer study. The study, conducted by Ecosystm , finds that while 85% of organizations place a high strategic level of importance on achieving their sustainability goals, only 16% have integrated sustainability into their strategies and data.

देशव्यापी ग्रामीण भारत बंध में उतरे मध्य प्रदेश के आदिवासी, किया केंद्र सरकार का विरोध

हरसिंग जमरे, भिखला सोलंकी, रतन अलावे द्वारा* 15 और 16 फरवरी को निमाड के बड़वानी, खरगोन और बुरहानपुर में जागृत आदिवासी दलित संगठन के नेतृत्व में आदिवासी महिला-पुरुषों ग्रामीण भारत बंद में रैली एवं विरोध प्रदर्शन किया । प्रधान मंत्री द्वारा 2014 में फसलों की लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव देने का वादा किया गया था, 2016 में किसानों की आय दुगना करने का वादा किया गया था । आज, फसलों का दाम नहीं बढ़ रहा है, लेकिन खेती में खर्च बढ़ता जा रहा है! खाद, बीज और दवाइयों का दाम, तीन-चार गुना बढ़ चुका है! किसानों को लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव देने के बजाए, खेती को कंपनियों के हवाले करने के लिए 3 काले कृषि कानून लाए गए । 3 काले कानून वापस लेते समय प्रधान मंत्री ने फिर वादा किया था कि फसलों की लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव की कानूनी गारंटी के लिए कानून बनाएँगे, लेकिन वो भी झूठ निकला! आज जब देश के किसान दिल्ली में आपको अपना वादा याद दिलाने आए है, तब आप उनका रास्ता रोक रहें है, उनके साथ मारपीट कर उन पर आँसू गैस फेंक रहें हैं, उन पर छर्रों से फायरिंग कर रहें है! देश को खिलाने वाला किसान खुद भूखा रहे, क्या यही विकास है?

How the slogan Jai Bhim gained momentum as movement of popularity and revolution

By Dr Kapilendra Das*  India is an incomprehensible plural country loaded with diversities of religions, castes, cultures, languages, dialects, tribes, societies, costumes, etc. The Indians have good manners/etiquette (decent social conduct, gesture, courtesy, politeness) that build healthy relationships and take them ahead to life. In many parts of India, in many situations, and on formal occasions, it is common for people of India to express and exchange respect, greetings, and salutation for which we people usually use words and phrases like- Namaskar, Namaste, Pranam, Ram Ram, Jai Ram ji, Jai Sriram, Good morning, shubha sakal, Radhe Radhe, Jai Bajarangabali, Jai Gopal, Jai Jai, Supravat, Good night, Shuvaratri, Jai Bhole, Salaam walekam, Walekam salaam, Radhaswami, Namo Buddhaya, Jai Bhim, Hello, and so on.

Tamil Nadu brahmins are at cross roads, their future scenario remains uncertain

By NS Venkataraman*  For over 70 years now, brahmin community in Tamil Nadu have been abused, insulted and even physically attacked on some occasions by those who claimed that they were part of the so called dravidian movement. However, brahmin community silently and helplessly ducked under pressure and showed no signs of resistance or fight back.

Laxmanpur Bathe massacre: Perfect example of proto-fascist Brahmanical social order

By Harsh Thakor  The massacre at Laxmanpur-Bathe of Jehanabad in Bihar on the night of 1 December in 1997 was a landmark event with distinguishing features .The genocide rightly shook the conscience of the nation in the 50th year of Indian independence. The scale of the carnage was unparalleled in any caste massacre. It was a perfect manifestation of how in essence the so called neo-liberal state was in essence most autocratic. 

How Mahakavi Sri Sri defined political and cultural metamorphosis of Telugu society

By Harsh Thakor  Srirangam Srinivasarao, popularly known as Sri Sri, or called Mahakavi (The Great Poet), held a reputation like no other Telugu poet. Today, on June 15th, we commemorate his 40th death anniversary. Sri Sri transcended heights in revolutionary creativity or exploration, unparalleled, in Telegu poetry, giving it a new dimension. His poems projected the theme or plight of the oppressed people at a scale, rarely penetrated by poets, giving revolutionary poetry it’s soul.

1982-83 Bombay textile strike played major role in shaping working class movement

By Harsh Thakor  On January 18th, 1982 the working class movement commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Textile Workers Strike that lasted for 18 months, till July 1983. It was landmark event that played a major role in shaping the working class movement. With more than 2.5 lakh workers from 65 textile mills joining in this strike for almost two years, this strike became one of the most significant strikes in terms of scale and duration All democrats should applaud the mill workers’ united battle, and their unflinching resilience an death defying courage continues to serve as a model for contemporary working-class movements. Many middle class persons harboured opinions that the Textile workers were pampered or were a labour aristocracy, ignorant of how they were denied wages to provide for basic necessities. The Great Bombay Textile Strike is notably one of the most defining movements in the working class struggles in Post-independent India. Bombay’s textile industry flourished in

India may be fastest growing economy, but it is one of the most unequal countries

By Vikas Parasram Meshram  The economic disparity gap continues to widen with economic disparity.  A large portion of the population is dispossessed, while the poor continue to get poorer. They struggle to earn a minimum wage and access quality education and health care, suffering disinvestment from persistently low incomes. These widening gaps and growing inequalities have the greatest impact on women and children.  The Oxfam International report is known to have expressed concern that, on the one hand, the wealth of some people in the world is increasing at a rocket speed.  And the number of rich people is constantly increasing. As a result, the income of the common man is increasing very little, while the wealth of the rich class has increased manifold.  Not only in India but in many other countries of the world, the gap of economic inequality is continuously widening. Oxfam International in its annual report on economic inequality at the World Economic Forum meeting last month, sai

Adapting to edge: Urban and coastal climate resilience - fostering collaborative alliances

By Enid Dsouza  Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) India hosted a workshop on ‘Adapting to the Edge: Urban and Coastal Climate Resilience’ as part of the Climate Action Workshop Series in New Delhi. The workshop brought together experts, practitioners, government bodies, CSR leaders to initiate dialogues on fostering nature-based solutions for a climate-resilient future.

Israel's merciless bombing of Rafah faced huge protests across the globe

By Harsh Thakor*  With the numbers of the murdered in Gaza surpassing 28,000 people, Israel mercilessly conducted bombing to prepare for a genocidal attack on the displaced people in Rafah. Peoples of the world keep rose up like a spark turning into a prairie fire.